13% HST a major assault against First Nations' sovereignty

OTTAWA, Dec. 10 /CNW/ - "Governments over the last two days in this country have made it quite clear; they are selective in recognizing Aboriginal and treaty rights. The imposition of a 13% Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) affecting First Nations in Ontario is a clear indication of this," says Isadore Day elected Chief of Serpent River First Nation and Lake Huron Regional Chief of the Union of Ontario Indians.

Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan told the legislature yesterday that blending the five per cent GST with the provincial tax will lower costs for businesses, allowing them to lower prices for consumers and hire more staff. First Nations in Ontario say that this does nothing for them and furthermore, is contravening treaties in Canada and the integrity of nation-to-nation relations between Crown governments and First Nations in this country.

First Nations in Ontario all agree that the Canadian and Ontario governments failed to meet legal obligations to consult and accommodate First Nations on the HST, which will have an immediate negative impact on Ontario First Nation citizens and businesses. First Nations tax immunity is derived from its nation-to-nation relationship with the Crown. Chief Day says with certainty that "this chaotic imposition will be formally scrutinized and tested against the Honor of the Crown and that this is not the end of this matter for First Nations in Ontario."

"In the initial stages of re-profiling a national tax strategy months ago the federal and provincial governments failed to talk to our people. Only when they agreed to their terms, were we 'told' how this was going to be imposed," says Day. He also says that all throughout the last several weeks and months of dialogue with both governments, they both pointed their fingers at each other sighting that it was the other that had the jurisdiction to deal with saving the point-of-sale tax exemption for off-reserve purchases," says Chief Day.

"This directly impacts other areas such as First Nations citizenship and mobility of rights. This tax grab will directly impact those that are already in poverty. The real issue here is the unilateral nature of another government's imposition that impacts all of our citizens, on and off reserve lands."

In January Chief Day vows that his community will turn up the dialogue giving louder voice to issues such as treaty obligations and annuities. Chief Day says that "If government wants to go down this road we must all be more determined and direct about the treaty relationship and matters of inherent rights and sovereignty.

"As an Anishinabek citizen and part of leadership, I call on both Canada and Ontario to get serious about treaty implementation and the legal and sacred obligation of 'sharing' resources," says Chief Day. "What is politically bizarre about this issue is the fact that the all questions lead back to the systemic and racist dynamics of the Indian Act and yet the Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl says that he can't do anything nor has any say in this matter."

Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee and Regional leaders met with the Minister on Tuesday and Strahl agreed to look into the issue to see what the impacts were and what further dialogue might be possible.

The Anishinabek Nation established the Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 41 member communities across Ontario, representing approximately 55,000 people. The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.

SOURCE Anishinabek Nation

For further information: For further information: Marci Becking, Communications Officer, Union of Ontario Indians, Phone: (705) 497-9127 (ext. 2290), Cell: (705) 494-0735, E-mail: becmar@anishinabek.ca

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Anishinabek Nation

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Union of Ontario Indians

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